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THE OK CAFE - Hastings, Nebraska

History of the OK Cafe submitted to Garry Lutz, courtesy of my Uncle David Powers.(May 21, 2002)

The original yard office of the St. Joseph and Grand Island railroad sat just East of the tracks in the area of 13th and Minnesota Avenue, pretty much across from the first house that your folks lived in on North Minnesota Ave. when you were a baby.

There was a cafe named " The Blue Goose " in the area of 13th and East Side Boulevard run by a person named Grace Abbott. This was probably the original Railroad Restaurant.

The yard office later moved to a location just west of the overpass and Kansas Avenue, somewhere around 1932 or 1933.

The first picture of the OK Cafe that you have is either the Blue Goose moved from it's original spot to the location where it stood when the 1st picture was taken or a different structure was erected at 17th and St. Joe Ave. If I am right the first proprietor was a man named George Nimitz from Hanover, Kansas. To my knowledge he sold it to the Jay Pittman family in the late 30's. Wayne Pauley a brother-in-law to Mrs. Pittman purchased it next and when he returned to Marysville, Kansas (switchman for the UPRR) he sold it to my folks, probably in 1943.

The folks ran it during the war years and I know that you were part of the history at that time. The cafe never closed, as at that time it was subsidized by the Union Pacific to stay open 24 hours per day.

OK Cafe in Hastings, Nebraska - Circa 1930's

The OK Cafe was purchased and operated during World War II, by my Grandparents, Wilbur David Powers and , Ella Christina Doll-Powers.

It was a family endeavor of Labor and Love.

Grandmother Ella was "the boss" and kept the rest of our family gainfully employed.

My Grandfather Wilbur was the "Yard Master" for the Union Pacific Railroad.

Grandmother's primary customers were Union Pacific Railroaders who worked on the run from Marysville, Kansas to Hastings, Nebraska and back.

The basement of the restaurant had beds for any of the railroad men who wished to rest up before their next trip back to Marysville.

My Grandmother rarely ever turned anyone away who needed a handout. She did, however, expect that any handout granted would demand some sort of work done around the Cafe in repayment. I recall Hobos, who "rode the rails", knocking on the back door and asking for a little hamburger to fry, or maybe borrow a cooking untensil or skillet. Of course she would usually oblige them, as the Hobos would always reimbursed her by an act of kindness or by some work around the Cafe. Hobos, back in those days, had a special way of relaying to one another which restaurants treated people good. The OK Cafe was one. Grandmother was tough, but had a good heart.

Created by Garry and Carol Lutz

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